The current flu virus is going around the world – like most seasonal flu viruses in the past, SARS, MERS, bird flu, swine flu etc. However, the difference this time is in the State reactions to it, which seem to be suicidal for many economies and businesses. They are unique. Conspiracy theories therefore abound. Such that this was all an attempt by a certain jealous State to sabotage the Chinese economy through bacteriological warfare. But the scheme went wrong, catastrophically backfiring and spreading worldwide. Though there is no proof at all of this, it would at least explain the extreme measures.
Some 500,000 died in the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic without any extreme measures. On the other hand, the present death toll of over 16,000 could easily double, double again and double again within a few days or weeks. However, it remains true that so far virtually all, if not all, the victims have been very elderly, already very ill and dying of respiratory illnesses, heart disease, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, or had extremely low immunity.
We have seen some extraordinary stupidity, official and unofficial: panic buying; racism towards Chinese-looking people; the refusal to ban the visits of relatives to by far the most vulnerable in care homes; the refusal by the government and care homes to give sick pay to care home workers, so that they had to work when not feeling well; the government decision to stop most London Tube trains and then their surprise when the few that were allowed to run were overcrowded. There are always opportunities for stupidity.
More frightening is that the whole planet is being turned into a prison – indeed many have already volunteered to imprison themselves. In many countries nearly all churches voluntarily closed themselves – a situation never achieved by the atheists in the Soviet Union! The silence of Church hierarchies is stunning. Therefore we all have to pray at home, reading the Psalter and the New Testament especially, and the Lives of the Saints. And we all have an opportunity to fast. The word quarantine means 40 days – the same as Lent. Relatively soon, this will be over. It is a great Lenten temptation. Like all temptations it can be defeated. If Satan breathes on us, then we can turn away from him.